When it comes to Big Oil, one of the names that comes to mind is that of T. Boone Pickens. The founder of Mesa Petroleum is now worth over $3 billion, and his company is one of the largest independent oil companies in the world.
But right now Mr. Pickens is thinking about wind. So much so that he plans on building the worlds biggest wind farm. According to the Guardian, this month Pickens will make the first down payment on 500 wind turbines – they cost $2 million each. But this is just step one – over the next four years, Mr. Pickens plans on building over 2,700 wind turbines across 200,000 acres in the Texas panhandle. This is over four times the size of the current largest wind farm – it will supply 4,000 megawatts of electricity, which is enough for one million homes.
But according to the Guardian, he hasn’t turned into an environmentalist. “Don’t get the idea that I’ve turned green. My business is making money, and I think this is going to make a lot of money.”
In order to get the turbines built, he’s signed up alot of ranchers and farmers – they get between $10,000 and $20,000 in annual royalties for each turbine they allow on their land. So far, almost everyone has signed up – except for Mr. Pickens himself who says of wind turbines, “They are ugly!”. So no turbines are going on the Pickens ranch.
He’s thinking even bigger than this massive farm. Of the lack of real energy policies in the US, Pickens says, “George Bush has done nothing. Nothing. Every guy that ran for president clear back to Nixon said he would make us energy independent, but not one goddamned thing has been done. Zero. The biggest problem facing the United States in the next 50 years is energy and nobody has come up with a solution.”
Pickens’s solution is a corridor of land running north to south through the middle of the US and the great plains, where he would build “an army” of wind farms. He would put an equally large sized corridor of solar energy farms running east to west across Texas to southern California.
‘”You need a giant plan for America. Not the pissant 83 megawatt [windfarm] deals being stamped all over the country. There needs to be a huge plan from someone with leadership. It’s going to take years to do, but it has to start now.” Only then, he explains, can the US stop what he regards as the madness of a flood of money flowing out of America to the oil producers of the Middle East. “That money is going God knows where – a few friends, a lot of enemies. We’ve got to stop it.”‘